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weed with lantern shaped seed pod

To further isolate the Chinese lanterns and keep them from spreading any further, corral them with some kind of barrier. To use an extreme example, we discuss building a bamboo barrier in an article about containing bamboo. Different plant, similar problem.

Until eradication is complete, we wouldn’t plant anything else near the Chinese lanterns. You might even want to consider digging up and potting (temporarily) any existing plants there that are in too close a contact with the Chinese lanterns. This will accomplish two things:

Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) are invasive perennial plants grown for their colorful and delicate orange pods, which, true to the common name, remind one of those paper lanterns sometimes used to decorate with an Oriental theme. Here’s the problem with growing these plants: using rhizomes, they can easily spread out of control in your landscaping, causing you more headaches in landscape maintenance than their beauty and uniqueness warrants.

Don't Plant Anything Near Chinese Lanterns Until Eradication Is Complete

Even if you do apply an herbicide as part of your eradication approach, you can still supplement it with other control methods. For example, let’s say that, after spraying, the vegetation dies back. So far, so good. But you have to assume that at least part of the root system will live on to fight another day. At this point, you could begin trying to dig it out. Make sure you try to get every last scrap of root out of there, though, because, otherwise, they’ll regenerate. To accomplish this, it helps to sift the dirt, so that you can go over it with a fine tooth comb.

In the case of Chinese lanterns (as with other invasives that spread via rhizomes), eradication efforts must largely focus on the root system. Also expect to be battling this aggressive spreader for an extended period of time (but you probably already surmised that!), as you would, for example, the notorious spreader, Japanese knotweed. Here’s what we recommend doing:

Let’s assume that, in spite of these efforts, new shoots still pop up. You’ll have to take care of these as soon as possible, lest they send nutrients back down to the root system. The idea is to starve the root system over time. How you deal with the new shoots is a matter of preference. Some people would spray them with an herbicide, others would dig them out, still, others might try covering the recalcitrant shoots with something (such as a tarp) that would smother them, depriving them of sunlight—again, as folks might do to kill Japanese knotweed.

There is no magic bullet to use to control and/or kill Chinese lanterns. The best advice we can give is to employ a variety of methods (underground barriers, herbicide sprays, digging, smothering tarps) and to be as persistent as the plant is.

Chinese lantern plant pods with their pumpkin-like color are often used in Halloween crafts, harvest-themed decorations, and dried flower arrangements for fall.

Chinese lantern is easy to grow and is best planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. This fast-growing plant that will reach maturity and bloom in its first season.

Chinese lanterns prefer average, well-draining soil that is consistently moist. Rich soils may cause the plant to spread faster than you want, so there are some advantages to growing it in more meager soil.


Chinese lantern plants are prone to several insect pests, including false potato beetles, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles. If insects have infested your plants, you might notice the pods have become riddled with holes made by hungry insects. Neem oil and/or insecticidal soap sprays should be effective against most of the offending pests.

This plant has a similar growth habit and cultural needs to the Chinese lantern, but inside the papery husks, the plant produces a tomato-like fruit that is edible and commonly used in salsas. As the yellow to purple fruits ripen, they split open the husks to reveal themselves. the fruits can be quite attractive in the landscape, even if you do not harvest them for eating.

Chinese lantern will grow well in any average soil, provided it is well-drained and evenly moist. The biggest challenge is keeping the plant in check as it will spread aggressively if you don’t keep an eye on it.

Feed in the spring after new growth appears with a light application of balanced fertilizer—unless the plants have proved too aggressive, in which case you can withhold feeding. If using granular fertilizer, make sure to keep it away from the plant’s crown and foliage. Too much fertilizer can stimulate fast growth rates, which may encourage root rot as well as uncontrolled spreading.

UPDATE! We now know what these are.

A “lantern” weed popped up in my garden this year too! We live in S.E. Michigan. Unlike the jimson weed, these lanterns are smooth, jimson weeds have prickly spikes.

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Just don’t fall asleep anywhere near them. They look suspiciously like the pods in ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.

Becky: Neat shots, your sedum looks really healthy and cute ladybug. My sedum is turning brown.

I have seen these plants (weeds) before but haven’t seen them since I was a child in Arkansas. I know they are not goose berries as I have picked many of them.